Bundestagswahl 2013: To vote or not to vote…

The story of an election in a modern democracy has recently more and more turned into the story of a non-vote, as turnout at elections is on a general decline in many countries. That does not always reflect a certain libertarian strategy (otherwise the strive for anarchism would be stunningly on the rise), but can more likely be linked to an apolitical attitude. So how many Germans did choose to not cast a vote on this year’s general election (see the full results of the Bundestagswahl in this blog post)? 71.5% went to the polls last Sunday, so 29.5% of the electorate did not, which is slightly lower than the 29.2% non-voters at the 2009 election, though one can certainly not speak of an upward trend here. The following map gives an impression of this quite interesting geographical pattern that is far from evenly distributed across the country. The second map shows another group of voters who did not make their voice heard: The 1.3% of spoilt votes which again show a certain geographical distribution and are not completely evenly distributed. Even in the non-votes lie many spatial stories:

Equal population projection map of the spoilt votes at the 2013 German General Election / Bevölkerungsrastertransformationskarte der ungültigen Stimmen bei der Bundestagswahl 2013
(click for larger version)

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Bundestagswahl 2013: Electoral maps of Germany

Germany’s vote at this year’s general election has implications that reach much further than its national borders. CDU, the party of chancellor Merkel, could secure a massive victory getting 34.1% of the second vote share, though it narrowly missed an absolute majority of seats with its sister party CSU who won 7.4% of the votes (they are only standing in the Federal state of Bavaria). The former coalition partner FDP however missed the 5% mark (4.8%) that is needed to enter parliament, so that CDU/CSU now have to find a new coalition partner. Second largest party became that of Merkel’s contender Steinbrueck. SPD could secure 25.7% of the second votes. The only two other parties in parliament are Die Linke (The Left) with 8.6% of votes, and Die Gruenen (the Green Party) with 8.4%.
As often the case with electoral maps, the problem with conventional map depictions (as shown in the little thumbnail maps below) is the distorted perspective of the less populated areas. The maps shown in most of the media give the impression of an almost landslide victory of CDU/CSU. But while their good results are undisputable, the conservative CDU is traditionally strong in the rural regions, while SPD is stronger in urban areas. The following two maps show the largest shares of votes from each of the two votes. The first vote directly elects the local candidate into parliament, while the second vote determine’s each party’s total vote share in the Bundestag (Erststimme / Zweitstimme, read more about the electoral system in Germany at Wikipedia). When it comes to showing the real distribution of voting patterns in Germany, these two main maps give the more honest result of this year’s election:

Equal population projection map of the First and Second Vote Results in the 2013 German General Election / Bevölkerungsrastertransformationskarte der Ergebnisse der Bundestagswahl 2013
(click for larger version)

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US presidential election results

The old tenant in the White House stays for another four years after Tuesday’s presidential election in the United States. By the time of writing, Obama has secured 303 of the electoral votes, while his opponent Romney could only secure 206. The 29 votes from Florida were still undecided, but showed a favour towards Obama. The number of votes in the electoral college which elects the president reflects very much the population distribution in the country, and according to the US voting system one state gives all its votes to the winning candidate in that state. Therefore the presidential election is often displayed on a map based on state-level results. What the conventional maps fail in though is a correct proportional view of the votes, giving the less densely populated space in the mid-west a lot more space in the map display compared to the densely populated east or also larger states such as Washington. The following state-level population cartogram corrects that perspective by resizing each of the US states according to its total population and colouring the state by the colour of the winning candidate in the 2012 presidential election (assuming Florida also goes to Obama as currently predicted):

Cartogram / Map of the US Presidential Election 2012
(click for larger version)

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London’s Vote 2012

The old Mayor is the new Mayor of London as Boris Johnson secured a second term in office at this month’s election in the British capital. This left contender Ken Livingstone in second place at a campaign that was put the two personalities more into the spotlight than the underlying politics. Beyond the decision between Boris and Ken the elections provided an insight into how much the political patterns have changed since the last election in 2008. As a comparison to the feature published before the election, I created the same map series from the 2012 election results, giving an updated view of the political landscapes of London of all contestants and their respective political parties. This year’s election saw fewer candidates and resulted in a more polarised picture between the two main parties (Conservative and Labour) and the smaller ones. Nevertheless, the individual vote distributions of all participating parties (and candidates) result in specific patterns that correspond to the preferences of the population in London. Majorities of votes from each part of the political spectrum – from right to left wing views – are significantly distributed, not only when it comes to differences between Labour- and Conservative strongholds, but also for the smaller parties, as the following map series demonstrates by mapping the individual vote shares accordingly. The results are displayed on a gridded population cartogram of London (election data provided by London Elects):

The 2012 London Mayoral Election in Maps(click for larger view)

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Political Landscapes of London

Londoners will decide on their new mayor on the 3rd of May in this year’s mayoral election. Directly elected mayors were introduced in England in 2000 when Labour candidate Ken Livingstone was elected the first Mayor of London. He therefore also became the first to have this position in England under the Local Government Act 2000 introduced by the then Labour government under Prime Minister Tony Blair. Meanwhile, other cities have followed, and more will have a referendum on the issue on the same day Londoners go to the polls this year. Continue reading

In Focus: US midterm elections 2010

Political InsightA map showing the US midterm elections results is now featured in the “In Focus” section of Political Insight (April 2011, Volume 2, Issue 1). The accompanying article written by Charles Pattie, Danny Dorling and me looks at the implications of the election results.

Here are the bibliographic details:
US Midterm Elections 2010 Thumbnail image

  • Pattie, C. Hennig, B. D. and Dorling, D. (2011). In Focus: US Midterm Elections 2010. Political Insight2 (1): 34.
    Article online (Wiley)

More electoral maps can be found here.

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